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gritLIT is 20 in 2024

Hamilton’s readers and writers festival is four days of readings, panels, interviews and workshops – and Margaret Atwood. 

gritLIT, Hamilton’s readers and writers festival, is 20 years old and has welcomed more than 400 of Canada’s best-established and emerging authors over the years.

Running April 17 to 21, gritLIT lets readers get up close with their favourite authors through readings, panels and interviews while discovering new voices, too.  

“This year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever,” says Jessica Rose, acting artistic director. “We have 30 authors coming from Hamilton and across the country.”

There are writing workshops and special events, headlined by renowned author Margaret Atwood, who comes to Theatre Aquarius April 9, and longtime CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge, who will appear at the Playhouse Theatre on April 17. 

An official launch party at Theatre Aquarius kicked off the festival in February.

“We’ve not done that in the past but it was really successful and I expect that will continue,” says Rose, who moved from her marketing role to acting artistic director in January when Jennifer Gillies went on a medical leave. 

Also for the first time, gritLIT is partnering with Hamilton’s Telling Tales to offer kids programming.

As always, Hamilton looms large at gritLIT. Hamilton’s Gary Barwin will lead the Spotlight Series this year, which sees an established author pick emerging writers to showcase. As well, Mary Francis Moore, artistic director at Theatre Aquarius, will conduct an in-depth interview with Tom Wilson, whose autobiographical musical Beautiful Scars hits the stage April 24.

A Hamilton writers panel will feature Barwin, Dannabang Kuwabong, David Neil Lee, and George Matuvi.

Notable events include Drafts and Drafts, which sees authors read from upcoming works while attendees enjoy a pint. It will feature Hamilton authors Anuja Varghese, Nathan Whitlock and Amy Jones.

gritLIT challenges you to forget everything you think you know about literary festivals.

“Don’t like stuffy, academic discussions about boring books? Excellent! Neither do we. What we do like is wine, music, games, laughter – and sometimes tears – great stories, and discussions about fascinating topics and ideas with some of Canada’s best living writers.” 

All in-person events are happening at the Homewood Suites By Hilton (40 Bay St. S.). The festival begins with digital events April 17.